Charging A-head: How Much for Language Training Workshops?
January 20, 2012 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Calling all Consultants, Workshop Facilitators, ESL/EFL Teachers, Writing Teachers, Business Writing Teachers, Group Trainers, etc.: I've suddenly happened upon a potential trio of jobs that call for someone to create original curricula, teach English/Business English/ESL, and tailor a "program" for a specific adult audience's needs, usually on a compressed, intensive time-frame. This has *potentially* opened up a long-desired way of branching into other versions of my long-time metiers. But I have questions, many questions, chief of which is how much?

1] That's right. How do I charge?

So far, I've slowly worked out I should probably charge separately for:

A. curriculum development time (i.e. the time I spend to sort out the main goals of the class and specific goals on a daily/weekly/monthly basis)
B. individual class preparation time (i.e. the time I spend creating procedures for achieving these goals: specific lesson plans, lectures, group-specific assignments, tests, quizzes, correction of same, etc.
C. classroom contact time (i.e. the time I actually spend face-to-face with students)

And I think the overall bill should probably be higher if:

* it's essentially a "rush job" (i.e. an intensive class requiring long hours over a brief timespan)
* there are fewer than 4 or more than 15 students, both of which require adjustments in teaching style and curriculum planning.

2] To date, I've only worked out one budget, but more are in the works. In it, I charged for estimated time of $50/hour contact time and $70/hour curriculum development. I didn't think about the prep time during this phase, but the overall number was big enough that I'm okay with that. Initial feedback was good, but they're still working out the who and how many at their end.

Even so, I think I overcomplicated the budget. (It took me hours and hours.) Anyone have any tips or sample budgets, or any idea how I can gage what the market will bear? Are the hourlies I cited fair-sounding to you?

In terms of credentials, I've got:

-- 5 years of 15- to 20-year-old teaching experience (all ages, but particularly adult) for a variety of schools and (adult) age groups though no place famous.
-- 10+ years of editing experience, for several fancy brand-name book publishers, government agencies, and educational institutions.
-- 10+ years of author or small-group tutorials
-- A double major + a minor in related subject matter (but not ESL), + several years of foreign language training, including at several top-notch foreign universities + lots of editing/publishing coursework + a little linguistics/rhetoric, etc.
-- I've also edited several ESL textbooks (including one famous one), several Spanish-English textbooks, and several general English grammar books, and the like. (These were aimed at all levels, but primarily adults.)
-- I'm an excellent teacher, and an excellent editor, if I say so myself. And I know lots and lots about language, in all its variant forms.
-- But I've got no TESOL, CELTA, DELTA, or Master's.

In terms of expectations, I'm aiming to earn and save as much as I can! I'm not worrying for the moment about calculating in retirement, FICA, insurance, etc. I've been an un- and underemployed editor with bum wrists in a moribund industry too long for that sort of thing. All I really want right now is what I can earn in my first couple of gigs. (If I get them.) I'll think about the rest later.

3] Now, say for the sake of argument that one or more of these gigs does come through. How would I drum up more business? Where could I advertise? Have you known anyone who does this sort of thing?

4] How much more employable would I be with a CELTA, do you think? And what is coursework like? (It looks pretty redundant to practical training I've already had.) Boring? Hard? Useful for job placement or networking? And is the curriculum different in the U.S. than in Thailand or Guatemala (?), its two cheapest competitor countries, from what I gather? At a glance, it seemed like Thailand was *much* more demanding than the U.S.

5] True or False? I'm gathering the CELTA is preferred to TESOL; that almost no one gets a DELTA (which does what for you, exactly, helps you train other teachers? get an administrative job in a school? I've already done the former....); and I'd expect that folks with Master's or more get paid better--though I've seen several ads asking for a CELTA or a Master's interchangeably.

All thoughts are enormously appreciated.
posted by Violet Blue to Work & Money (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If it is the same client, it's probably a good idea to charge per component. This is useful because it gives you a way to negotiate more effectively, instead of one big "no" for the whole thing.

I've found it useful to charge as a lump sum, and never discuss rates. Don't provide separate rates for different components. Instead (in your mind), average out the rate.

How long will this take you to do? How many hours? How much do you normally charge? How much do you need?

Don't charge because it's a rush job, although if the rush aspect of it will result in an opportunity cost for you (eg, you are going to have down time afterwards because you did not have time to market yourself while doing this rush contract) you should probably factor that in.

However, if this rush contract is going to incur a significant opportunity cost (it will take you a couple of months to get back up and running because you were preoccupied), don't take the contract.

As for your experience, it's irrelevant. Only the quality of the output is relevant. And if you can't produce high quality product (and I think you can), you shouldn't do the contract. It's a binary thing.

As for your rate, no idea. You kind of have to figure out how much the students are paying per head, and then factor in the overhead (classroom space, the actual margins they're shooting for). It's important to be reasonable, both to the client, and to yourself.

And don't talk about hourly rates, just a blanket cost for outputs.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:03 PM on January 20, 2012

CELTA is UK-based and thus more popular outside North America, as far as I know. TESOL certificates are useful overseas and not very in North America, except maybe to supplement other credentials in the US (though I learned a lot in my classes, I felt like I was just reaching the tip of of the iceberg, and I quickly learned that it wouldn't really help me get a job here). A CELTA is not equivalent to a master's, which requires more coursework and a thesis or a capstone project such as designing a curriculum. Most of the people in my master's program had already taught for 1-20 years, including both EFL and other kinds of teaching, but most felt they learned a lot about language pedagogy or other things that made it valuable.

I think having some formal training in the field would be beneficial to getting future work from reputable employers, but I doubt that a certificate done somewhere meant to churn out short-term teachers (i.e. glorified backpackers) would be of much use to someone with your background. You'd probably be bored senseless and start teaching the class. :) It can be hard to find a reputable program, as even the worst ones are dedicated to proving that they're great. In addition, a lot of their graduates are in no position to judge whether they're any good (unless they're just flagrantly bad).

At any rate, I do actually know lots of people who do this kind of thing, but virtually all of them have a MATESOL and a couple of them have PhDs. See for an example. Networking through national and regional and local TESOL organizations is helpful, because people refer clients to each other if they trust each other but can't take a client on for one reason or another. Many regional and local TESOL groups (I don't know what country you're in) have business English SIGs that may have sessions on, well, selling yourself--writing proposals to companies and so on. It apparently involves a lot of sales tactics until you build up word of mouth.

Sorry if this makes no sense -- I've been looking at ESL essays all day. :)
posted by wintersweet at 9:42 PM on January 20, 2012

B. individual class preparation time (i.e. the time I spend creating procedures for achieving these goals: specific lesson plans, lectures, group-specific assignments, tests, quizzes, correction of same, etc.

Unless you are preparing these materials for other instructors, this isn't normally billable when teaching at an hourly rate. Lesson planning etc. is what you do to prepare for the work for which you are actually contracted.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:16 AM on January 21, 2012

I used to teach ESL (at 3 different colleges and also at a university via their continuing ed department). For all these situations, we got paid 1 hour of prep for each hour of contact. So, for example, a full-time teaching load might be 18-20 contact hours per week, which would mean that we'd get paid for an additional 18-20 hours of prep on top of the contact time.
posted by lulu68 at 9:55 AM on January 21, 2012

A late reply, but some parts of your question remain unanswered.

1 & 2) Freelance work isn't my area of expertise and others have answered your questions, so I won't say much, other than to note that this will vary widely depending on country and environment. You give sample prices in US dollars, so those who responded assuming you were in the USA are probably correct. Like DarlingBri, I haven't heard of anyone charging separately for lesson planning and materials preparation, which is usually calculated as a standard proportion of the contact hours. The only exception for this would be if you were producing materials and plans for the use of future teachers of the same course.

3) I'd need a lot more information about where you're working and for whom to be able to answer this. And if my assumption that it's in the USA is correct, I won't be able to answer anyway!

4) OK, now I'm on more familiar ground. However, again the benefits of the CELTA vary in different markets. Earlier this week, I wrote to someone considering South Korea that the CELTA is, unfortunately, not seen as valuable there - and nor are any other certificates apart from a Master's. (which don't have to be in related subjects, a Master's in Architecture can get you a job at some Korean universities) On the other hand, I also wrote to someone this week about teaching in Germany, where CELTAs are definitely well-known and seen as a minimum qualification for serious teachers.

I'm less familiar with the the career value of a CELTA in the USA, though it's worth noting that the CELTA is originally an EFL, rather than ESL qualification (I'm not aware of CELTAs which focus on ESL, but I could imagine such a course existing) and obviously English language teaching in the USA is ESL.

The syllabus of the CELTA is fairly standardised, so one you take in Thailand or Guatemala will cover much the same ground and be of a similar level of difficulty to one in the USA. I'm not sure why the course in Thailand you saw looked harder than the others, probably just a matter of presentation. The one way in which they sometimes differ (as I hinted at in my previous paragraph) is in focus on the local learner.

Most people find the full-time CELTA fairly demanding. An experienced and knowledgeable teacher would certainly find it a lot less so, although most CELTA tutors of my acquaintance have far more stories of experienced teachers finding find the course surprisingly tough than boringly easy. It does have an element of jumping through hoops and the tutors will prefer that candidates prove they can teach using established EFL methodologies rather than using Dogme or Silent Way for the observed lessons, but in the end if there is evidence of learning for the students, the candidate will pass.

It can be useful for job placement / networking, but that very much depends on the centre where one takes it.

5) The CELTA is preferred to 'TESOL', because it's a standardised qualification and every CELTA is audited by an external assessor appointed by Cambridge ESOL. If an employer sees a job candidate who has just done a CELTA, s/he knows that they're capable of a certain basic standard of teaching. AFAIK, there is no standardisation for 'TESOL certificates' and, while there are some excellent courses out there, there are also some very dodgy operations.

The CELTA is an introductory qualification, which assumes no teaching experience of its candidates. While those who have passed it are certainly a better bet for an employer than an unqualified, inexperienced candidate, it is not a high-level qualification. The DELTA is aimed at experienced teachers who want career advancement. It's longer and more thorough than the CELTA, but retains its highly practical emphasis. Candidates may be researching aspects of second language acquisition theory, but it's in the service of writing stage aims for lesson plans that they will be observed teaching. The people I know who have one have gone into top-end teaching jobs, teacher training, writing, management, consultancy work etc.

Master's degrees are hard to pin down. There's no question that they are longer and more in-depth than CELTAs and DELTAs. However, they vary a lot more in quality and emphasis on practical teaching skills. I've recruited teachers and those with a DELTA went pretty much straight into shortlisting. I knew they were teachers who could produce really solid lessons that would genuinely improve students' English. I looked more closely at candidates with Master's. Some have done lots of research which translated into excellent practical teaching skills and were among the best teachers I've met. However, I've also met teachers with Master's who were, to put it bluntly, bullshitters. They knew the jargon and loved debating esoteric points of pedagogy, but lesson observations demonstrated a failure to even set suitable aims for their classes, let alone put together a logical plan to address their aims.

But I will repeat one more time that EFL and ESL contain a multitude of working environments where qualifications have different values, where normal pay is different and where the methods of finding work are different. I know my opinions and experiences are shared by an awful lot of people, but I also know there are plenty of people for whom the industry works differently.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 2:16 PM on June 10, 2012

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